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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 19, 2013 1:00am-2:00am EST

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white, african-american, of all sorts, and we're so pleased that five of those are pulitzer prize winners and the latest among them is jack nelson, barbara was so generous and had made jack's papers our possession now... ...o celebrate the life, the memoir, the papers of jack nelson with some people who knew him extremely well. jack was a man of enormous influence and consequence in the nation. the story of jack nelson, for those who don't know, is the story of news reporting in the latter half of the 20th century. if you look at his career starting off, he was born in talladega, alabama, just across the state line, moves as a child
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to biloxi where he starts peddling newspapers. he was a newspaper boy. an honorable way to begin. that's how i got my start. of. [laughter] he gets his paris job at the daily herald -- his first job at the daily herald down in biloxi/gulfport. just purely serendipitously, it's where i got my start, okay? [laughter] he portrays himself quite openly as a very gullible reporter, and i certainly hope that when you've bought the book and you've had a chance to look at it, you'll be as entertained as we were by some of his early stories of falling for ruses and having great faith that everyone was telling him the truth. as you find out later, they weren't always telling the truth. of course, he then begins to develop a reputation as a very tough, hard-nosed investigative reporter which gets him beat up a couple of times and sends him fleeing to the atlanta constitution where he continued to get beat up.
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[laughter] he did some just breakthrough investigative reporting that we'll hear about tonight. but beyond that he was just a terrific gumshoe. he was just a great reporter. it's easy to overemphasize just that it was investigative. his career was also about standing for the first amendment, and he worked with a number of organizations, helped create a number of organizations that to this day are still quite prompt innocent, the student -- prominent, the student press law center, all of which have jack's imprint on them. i want to say one last thing, and then we're going to start talking, just tell a little story. as many of you know, atlanta and the world lost a great editor this week when gene patterson passed away down in st. pete. gene had been the editor of the atlanta constitution when jack was here. and gene once told the story about jack being a reporter and
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a celebrated reporter. when gene got a call from the publisher of the los angeles times, otis chandler. and mr. chandler said, gene, i'm thinking that the los angeles times want to set up -- wants to set up shop in atlanta. you've got a big story brewing there in the south, the civil rights story and the emerging south, and i need a reporter to staff that bureau in atlanta for the los angeles times. you got any good reporters? and gene says, you know, mr. chandler, we've got tons of great reporters, and he started listing all these great reporters, and he purposely left off the name of jack nelson. [laughter] he wasn't about to give him up. and a week later otis chandler hired jack nelson. [laughter] that's how jack got to the los angeles times. he brought investigative reporting to the civil rights story which was elevated to an
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all new level. moves to washington as head of the washington bureau. now, l.a. didn't, the l.a. times did not have a great imprint in washington until jack got there. i'm not saying it had none. when he got there, it had 17 reporters, when he retired, they had 57. so i call the washington bureau of the los angeles times the house that jack built. [laughter] i'm going to turn now to our wonderful guests. we have barbara mat due sow who took on completion of scoop. the atlanta parts, the southern parts were pretty much done. she finished it, she polished it, and she turned it into a spectacular read. everyone here knows jimmy carter, former state senator. [laughter] you know, all day i wondered am i going to really try this one? [laughter]
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president carter knew jack throughout his career and, certainly, if he didn't know him directly, he knew his work. and if i might just take a moment and point out that we've been joined, i hope i don't embarrass you, by mrs. carter, i notice. it's good to have you here tonight. [applause] and ambassador andrew young who, certainly, is part of the movement that jack covered, you know, was the subject of stories that jack would have written as ambassador to the u.n. jack would have covered them and certainly as mayor of atlanta jack got to know him, and it's a real honor to have you here as well, ambassador young. [applause] and terry adamson, who worked at the atlanta constitution -- not at same time as jack -- got to know him later and got to know him extremely well. and terry is an emery graduate
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which we at emery are very proud of and went on to a number of different jobs including working in the justice department of the carter administration as a special assistant to attorney general griffin bell, then as his spokesman. he is now executive editor of national geographic, and it's a real pleasure to have you back here, terry. [applause] so i'm going to start with barbara and just because i think i want her to tell us what is it like, what is it like when -- and, you know, this is a to moment that -- this is a moment that maybe others we know have faced when jack died and you're faced with all of his papers and you're starting to go through them, what kind of an emotional experience is that? and, um, well, i'll end it there. tell us about the experience of going through jack's papers. >> okay. first, i must say what a
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pleasure and privilege it is to be on the same stage with president carter, ambassador young and my old friend terry. [laughter] and, by the way, another pulitzer prize winner, which he didn't mention. [applause] and also to say how pleased i am that jack's papers are here at emory. this is really where they belong, because you may not know it, but emory has -- well, it has an astounding collection, but randall burke, the curator here, pursued jack with a special zeal because they've made a sub-specialty out of southern journalists and they have quite a distinguished roster starting with ralph mcgill, the great claude zitton -- i knew i would do this, reese, marshall -- [inaudible] many of you know celestine. so i'm very, very proud that jack's paper ors are here --
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papers are here, as i said, where they belong. but now to return to hank's question, actually initially i had a very negative approach toward jack's papers. [laughter] the experience didn't start out very well. when jack retired, he came back from, he brought home with him about 20 boxes of the biggest mess you ever saw. [laughter] jack wasn't just disorganized, he was opposed to disorganization. [laughter] anyway, i started out to help him sort the papers, and so i had bought all these file boxes, and i bought folders and everything, and i'd pick up a paper and say where do you think this one goes, with the atlanta constitution or the marvin griffin administration? and he'd say, give me that. and he'd start reading it, and he would be, you know -- he read every piece of paper. he couldn't part with a single one. [laughter] and so after two days i just gave up. i said, okay, it's all yours, i can't do anymore.
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and the second reason i had a negative impression was they brought silver fish into the house. [laughter] so after he died and i decided that, you know, his memoir needed to be completed, it was of a wonderful read -- it was a wonderful read and an important book, but i knew that meant attacking his papers. i couldn't do it any other way. and so with a very heavy heart, i got started going through them. and to my astonishment, i found, i was finding these pearls, these gems, you know, articles he'd written, articles about him, oral histories, speeches that he gave which were really a mother load of information. and i began to see that it was really going to be possible to fill in these holes that he'd left and not only possible, but pleasurable. it became like a treasure hunt. or i sort of compared it to, um,
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like a jigsaw puzzle when you're just down to the last pieces and you see that they're going to fit. and so it really was, um, actually a very enjoyable experience, far from what i had expected. but, you know, the deeper i got into his papers, the more i i learned about him. and i didn't think that was possible, you know? like most wives i thought i knew everything about my husband. but i really didn't know him in the days when he was covering the south, in the days when he was making a legend of himself on the civil rights trail. he was married to somebody else at that time. but as i say, i learned a lot by reading all these things. one of the things i learned was the toll that his brilliant career took on his family. his kids and grandkids are all sitting out there. in fact, one great grandchild is here. and, um, i think they could tell
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you better than i. karen, his daughter, told me one time that he'd been gone so long that they put a big sign up on the wall, and it said "welcome home, daddy." [laughter] and there were constant telephone threats, constant interruptions. no dinner practically went on without the telephone rings. sometimes with tips that sent him out, you know, into the night again. there was a serious episode after he broke the story of a police-protected lottery ring. and fire engines would come screaming up to the house in the middle of the night. one time policemen with drawn guns started to approach the house saying they'd heard a report that he'd murdered his wife. so there were, there were lots of things that must have been very, very difficult to live through. um, another thing that surprised me -- shocked me, really -- was
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the patience he displayed as an investigative reporter. he was the world's most impatient person. i mean, from my point of view he was. [laughter] and his granddaughter who was supposed to be driving up from florida today, i guess she's stuck if traffic somewhere -- in traffic somewhere -- said to me one time, barbar, i don't know how you stay married to pop pop, he's so impatient. but it was totally different when he was on the job. investigative reporting requires an enormous amount of patients, and -- patience, and jack one time took two years to track down a lottery ring. and when he finally found, he's looking physically for the operation, and when he finally found the neighborhood, he went door to door knocking on doors until a woman told him that there was an auto repair shop next door without too much auto repair and a lot of cops coming back and forth. >> if i recall, that's on howell mill road.
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>> is that right? [laughter] >> i think -- [inaudible] >> yeah, i think you're right. and then he proceeded to spend 11 days, the woman let him sit in her kitchen not very far, you know, just looking down over this supposedly auto repair shop, and he spent 11 days up there documenting the whole thing, watching the cops come and go, take money. brought a photographer. so when jack finished reporting a story, it was reported. and as i say, it took patience that kind of stunned me. [laughter] i knew that he was tough and tenacious, but i actually didn't really understand the scope of his reporting. particularly in his, in his days as a corruption buster, you might say, at the atlanta constitution. i just wanted to read you a little list of some of the scandals that he broke. exposes on illegal gambling parlors in savannah,
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police-protected whorehouses in alt thins, marriage mills in south georgia, state payroll padding, 'em embezzlement of tax funds, nepotism, purchasing schemes such as the time the state bought a bunch of boats with no bottoms for lakes with no water. [laughter] i could go on. many of these, many of these exposes took place during the griffin administration which president carter can well attest was notoriously corrupt. i think it was reader's digest that said never had so many stolen so much. [laughter] but marvin griffin was kind of a forgiving sort of a crook. he, um, he -- quite a few years later he and jack and some other reporters were sitting around drinking, and, um, marvin griffin said to jack, you know
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how i used to think every time when i'd see you walking into a press conference with a notebook? and jack said, well, what? and he said, i used to think what that beady-eyed son of a bitch has on me today. [laughter] jack left the constitution in 1965 to, um, pursue the civil rights story for the l.a. times. and he was always -- i think we have to watch our time, so i'm just going to end by saying how happy i am that this book is published because he had such a wonderful career in washington, it tended to overshadow, i think, the earlier phase of his career here in the south. and this book, although it ends halfway through his career, it doesn't cover his career in washington except in an epilogue, i think helps cement his reputation. hank's co-author, gene roberts,
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called jack one of the most important journalists in the the 20th century, and i think that maybe the story of his life and his career helps cement that place in history. >> are very nice, very nice. [applause] >> so, president carter, given jack's reputation were you ever afraid of him? [laughter] tell us about your experiences are him, if you would, please. >> well, i think that all of these remarkable events described in the book, and i hope that -- how many of you have read the book yet? how many of you are going to read it? [laughter] don't forget that, barb. [laughter] okay. well, i knew jack when i was just a peanut farmer in south georgia, and i had no interest in politics at all. when he came to the atlanta constitution. but my first cousin, don carter, was a city editor of atlanta journal, and they were kind of in competition with each other. but everybody in georgia began
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to know jack nelson as one of the most incisive and aggressive and aggravating reporters who'd ever lived here. and i can't say all of the epithets that i heard describe jack. i heard the most prevalent was pissant. and that has a conation of somebody who's exposing things that ought not be exposed to decent people. so jack would do that, and he would do it with incredible success. and sometimes under unbelievable danger for himself. the first time i think he ever came to georgia he was inducted into -- he went into the national guard and was inducted into the korean war. that was the paris time he came to georgia -- first time he came to georgia. and he, ultimately, became a staff sergeant. and if you read the book, you'll find out that he never learned how to shoot a rifle, he never had any basic training at all,
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and he was of promoted far above any of the other people that came with him from biloxi to the army. and he did that because he was a reporter, and he was an expert at publicizing his commanding officers' great exploits. [laughter] and he did it by becoming friends with all of the editors of newspapers up and down the coast from savannah down to florida. and so he ingrape shaded himself there, and finally he went back over to biloxi, mississippi. but at the time he was asked to work for the atlanta constitution, and he never got back to mississippi, but he stayed in georgia. that was how he first got here. and he was given a crash course in how to load and shoot a rifle the last week he was in the army just so they could get rid of him, as a matter of fact. [laughter] so, but he would get involved in the most exciting and dangerous events in a community. and at that time there was
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practically no legitimacy in the georgia political system. it was shot through with absolute corruption. it was when most of georgia was so-called wet -- so-called dry. you couldn't buy liquor in most of the counties, but every county had plentiful liquor supplies. [laughter] if the sheriff and all of his deputies and so forth supported and protected the liquor dealers. it happened in my county as well. and so jack would find out about these ongoing crimes as well as prostitution, which barbara's already mentioned, and other things like bribery, and he would investigate and find out a few people that would give him information, and he would certify that the information was accurate and provable in court, and then he would bring it to the attention of the public so vividly that the law enforcement officials at the state level or somewhere would have to go down and do something about it. and when he got to atlanta, of
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course, he had the whole state as kind of a target. [laughter] and he and he would single out individual places to shoot at, and he would go in there and find out what was the most horrible thing going on that hurt the people of georgia, and he would expose those embarrassing things that were not embarrassing until jack told about them. [laughter] because it was generally accepted. and the same thing happened in the case of vote fraud. one of the cases that happened was in telfair county which was the home of genal imagine and his son who became very famous then. and jack went into that county and exposed how corrupt the vote fraud was. and i think about 15 people were indicted and the names were never revealed, but they were indicted by the grand jury. another thing that happened was at that time in 1962 when jack had been at the atlanta constitution, i decided to run for state senate.
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that's how i became famous. [laughter] and all to distinguish writers like jack over here as a state senator. but the election was stolen from me. and i didn't know jack nelson personally then, but my cousin had been the editor of the atlanta journal, and he said his competitor, whose name was jack pennington, sent down to help me, and i eventually became a state senator because of that. i think jack always resented that i didn't want call on him to help me -- that i didn't call on him instead of jack pennington. but i knew jack pretty well. at the time when i knew jack, he was not in the forefront of reporting on the civil rights issue. he was basically finding out crooks in georgia even at the top level of government and
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exposing them in such a way that their depp rahations on the people of georgia were corrected. and that's what he did. he concentrated on those individual things. and he got so that the people in georgia would know that if they had experience in their own community of someone that was cheating or violating basic principles of human rights, they could call jack nelson, although they couldn't call their own state police or their own sheriff in a county, they could call jack nelson, and he could take care of it from the top levels all the way down to the county commissioner level. he went to harvard, i think, on a nieman fellowship. >> that's right. >> i believe the second year that i was in the state senate, and then he came back there for my last time in the state senate, and from there he went on to be an employee of the l.a. times because they offered him 50% increase in salary -- [laughter] and that was something that you couldn't turn down if you had a wife and three kids to take care
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of. i've experienced those kinds of things myself. [laughter] but then that was why when i got to washington, i was not particularly afraid of jack nelson. one reason was, jack, if you'll excuse the expression, i was not a crook. [laughter] [applause] i hadn't had as much opportunity to be a crook as some people had. [laughter] but i certainly hadn't ever opinion in washington before, so i didn't have anything to conceal from jack knell soften. but i recognized -- nelson. but i recognized him for his true worth. and i said long before jack passed away that of all the newspaper reporters that i've known, and i've probably known as many newspaper reporters as anybody in georgia, he had the most integrity and the most human, personal courage and the most ability to expose the truth when it was difficult of any human being i've ever known. and i'm proud to have had jack nelson as my friend.
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[applause] >> take it away, ambassador young. >> let me say -- talk about another jack nelson, because i really didn't know this jack nelson. [laughter] i mean, our problem in the civil rights movement was that people who were writing about us were making us the problem. and jack never did that. i was just down in albany just before christmas because it occurred to me that it was exactly 50 years ago that i was down there. and i started driving around and remembering things, and claude in "the new york times" wrote us out. he wrote the obituary of martin luther king, that nonviolence was dead, it was rejected.
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martin luther king wasn't as -- couldn't defeat pritchard. and the story really was that the kennedy administration wanted carl sanders to win in 1962, and there was of a federal injunction that was placed on martin luther king. so we weren't up against the, you know, pretty pritchett and , we really had to take on the federal goth, -- federal government, and we chose not to do that. and jack always seemed to understand that we were not the problem. i used to quarrel with "the new york times" quite a bit because they were, well, i think they were being polluted birdies torted information they were
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getting from hoover -- [laughter] and they would come to talk to us like we were the ones that created all these problems in the south. jack never did that. jack understood where the problem was, and he knew -- i mean, i always saw him as a friend. and anything he ever asked me i knew i could answer him candidly and truthfully, and there would be no, to downside to it. no downside to it. and there were quite a few, actually, those days were rough on reporters. in 1964 in mississippi, the abc relater who -- reporter who wase first one to suggest, i mean, the story was that these three civil rights workers were in hiding, and the students were doing this just to get publicity. >> right. >> and the abc reporter, paul goode, whom i associate with, i
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mean, with jack nelson, these -- there were some good guys that knew the south, that knew the dirt and knew that we were not the problem. [laughter] >> right. >> so we loved them. >> yeah. [laughter] >> and we felt that through them we could get our story told. now, i think that's still a problem, that we spend, the press spends all of its time analyzing the players, the democrats or the republicans, and nobody's talking about the issues. well, that was a danger in the civil rights movement also. and jack was not one of those that was trying to find the popularity, who was winning the popularity contest. was black power going to defeat martin luther king. i mean, he would not write a story like that. he understood what the problems were in the south, and he bored in on them, and i guess, i guess i met him with carol and paul
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molder who were on my staff later on in congress. but even in washington he would always invite me to come to talk to the -- well, he had a breakfast where all the staff for the los angeles times and anybody else that wanted to come would come in, and we'd just talk very candidly and openly about anything and everything that was going on in washington that we knew about. and it was that kind of trust and integrity that i remember. >> very good. [applause] >> terry, he was a dear, close friend of yours, and, you know, terry was the emcee at the giant memorial service that he had for jack. where a lot of these stories got told. there's a blog site,
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scoopnelson-- >> scoop nelson@word >> right. if you want to read additional stories, go to this site. terry, why don't you tell us some stories. >> i will. i have to observe where this panel started, it was barbara, hank and me. [laughter] then president carter came along, and then andy young came along, and it's only sheer politeness, barbara, that i think i'm still here. [laughter] >> no way. >> i sort of feel like the rest of sandy koufax's pitching staff. [laughter] following these guys. but i did have the privilege to know jack well over -- from several different perspectives, and maybe i'll just relate a couple of them. first, as hank said, i started as even more green and more cub reporter as jim bentley on the front row can tell you with the atlanta constitution when i was 21 years old in 1969.
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jack, and i had just come out of the army. and jack had started when he was 23 years old in 1952. these dates are kind of interesting because the book is called "evolution of a southern reporter," and i think the word evolution is really an important part of it. jack was 23 years to old. at 29 years old, he won the pulitzer prize in 1970. and in '75, as has been mentioned, he went to the l.a. times. and in '70 he went to washington. young man. '65. excuse me, i said '70. >> [inaudible] right. >> '65, '70. but he was a young man during those period of times, and he acomplaished all those -- accomplished all those wonderful stories. of course, when i arrived there, he was lower. he was still in atlanta, he was
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based in atlanta. he really wasn't in atlanta, he was traveling all over the place where the movement was at the time. those stories were not the racially-based stories. >> no. >> the last, i learned from the book, frankly, i never knew this. and, actually, i learned it from gene patterson, that the last story that jack covered for the constitution, they sent him to little rock when eisenhower had the federal troops out, and they were desegregating central high school. and as gene patterson said at that memorial service, jack was never the same after that. you know, the common theme running through all of these stories whether it's corruption in government and state officials and incompetent doctors at millageville, the movement and then what he really did and liked to do in washington is he battled injustice and exposed it. and he found injustice, whatever it was, he exposed it. it started when he was 22, and
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it went to the time that he died. and that's why he believed so much in the first amendment. you know, there's an old myth that's shattered by this book, by the way. when i arrived at the constitution, and i think bo who's here wrote about this recently, the law was, we all believed it, that jack did not stay at the atlanta constitution because bill fields, the management, would not give him a $5 raise. [laughter] $5. and that was, that's been still been stated as true. and as president carter pointed out, he got a 50% raise, he was paid $10,000 at the constitution, and he got $15,000 at the los angeles times. so it wasn't so bad as all of that. [laughter] and so the other lore was, of course, was the athens house which was well known to a lot of people -- [laughter]
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and jack in this book in his voice tells the wonderful story of the evening he spent at effies. [laughter] i won't say anything more about that. >> you have to buy the book. >> you have to buy the book. [laughter] >> that's right. >> now, i had met jack a couple times in those periods, but he doesn't remember that, but i remember them immensely. in fact, one of them, mr. president, yoel appreciate this, and -- you'll appreciate this, and we don't need to go into it. but there was a certain candidate for governor in 1966 that i was giving some attention to, and we had a youth leadership retreat, brought a lot of people from all over the state to the american hotel in many downtown atlanta. you worked out at the plaza. and we -- >> i didn't own a hotel. >> be yeah. [laughter] and i had a pilot who you hater got. [laughter] before who you later got. wonderful crew cut, i actually have a wonderful picture that my
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sister's trying to find of jack speaking at that event. but my first real encounter with him was not the most pleasant onings. it was after president carter was elected president. his attorney general, for whom i was working directly, was at a very contentious hearing for confirmation. senate hearing. my instructions were to say no press can ask my questions to griffin bell during these confirmation hearings because he can't make any record. of course, jack is climbing over some chairs trying to get to judge bell, and i'm standing in his way and making it difficult for him. [laughter] and, of course, he and judge bell are old friends, but they didn't -- judge bell doesn't know all was going on, but i successfully blocked this former golden globe fighter, gloves fighter from getting into the room. [laughter] but he had the last lick. the next day i get a call from the director of the omb. i get a call from bob, counsel to the president, and i was just
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waiting for the call to come from the president. [laughter] that i had mistreated their friend, jack nelson. [laughter] and so, but we got -- it got a lot better after that. but one of the things about jack that should be said as we look at that particular perspective of the carter years is that jack was a great bureau chief and built a great bureau. and you said that, hank, and i just want to emphasize that. because the one thing that always came across to me in all of our dealings with jack during that period, he was promoting that bureau. he was promoting those reporters of that bureau. he did have those breakfast sessions, and they're famous. i mean, people used to run around the block not to see jack. how about coming over and having breakfast, mr. attorney general? [laughter] >> that's right. >> and, in fact, there was a time he got judge bell to invite chief justice berger who had never been to a breakfast, any press event that i know of at all, to come and participate in jack nelson's los angeles
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times'/c-span -- which got invited at one time -- >> right. >> which helped elevate the process even more. >> they came regularly. they were there at every session. >> which was -- >> that's a washington that no longer exists. >> the bureaus. >> no the. the idea that people can get together and have an honest discussion over breakfast, and c-span can show it. [applause] and nobody felt the need to crepe sor themselves. -- censor themselves. >> i want to close with one last story which is really a carter/nelson story. in 1973 president carter was in his, just to conclude hid second year, i guess, as golf of georgia -- as governor of georgia. he had made a decision and communicated it, i'm told, to his family and a very few friends that were supporters that he was going to run for christmas. in february he's accepted an
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invitation to go to the national press club and make a speech. congressman young was in the audience, among other people. and jack nelson was asked to introduce this governor of georgia and did. and the president made what was his first speech on the big national stage trying to strike some of the themes from hamilton's memo, from his own writing of a book and other things that he was going to be trying to stress when he came off the closet on this presidential campaign. and ambassador young who was in the audience wrote on his place card at that lunch this son of a gun is going to run for president. [laughter] and he, you know, it was nixon, anti-corruption, zero-based budget, all the things that -- government is as good as the people, all of the things you'd hear about. and he closed by quoting nieber,
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and a chinese philosopher named xu, you give a man a fish, he has one meal. if you teach him how to fish, he can feed himself forever. well, he stewed on this after he's told this to the washington press corps, and he apparently sent peter born to call vac in about three days who promptly told him he was going to run for president, and jack, of course; was e serious enough he never wrote a story about that. and he said the governor was concerned that it may be a little pretend white house for a first term georgia governor to be quoting xu. [laughter] at the end of his first speak to the national audience, jack said, well, don't worry about it, nobody gives a damn anyhow. [laughter] >> that's a good story. [applause]
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>> i think the most generic thing ability jack nelson's career is that to some degree he followed the pattern of the south, except he was always, as terry has pointed out, trying to find out where corruption was and where people were being cheated and exposing it and correcting it. but he didn't really get involved, as i mentioned earlier briefly, in the civil rights movement until, as terry pointed out, until he went to little rock and he saw the governor standing there and these little black children who were being abused. and jack saw then the expression on the faces of those little kids. and i think that's when he decided that he needed to move into the arena of racial relations because that was the pending story, the building, worldwide story that he had
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really not addressed before then because he had ralph mcgill and gene patterson at the constitution, they were the champions of human rights, civil rights at the time when it was way before the civil rights movement started. but jack once he got involved in it, he was still not permitted to do that -- >> that's right. >> will -- by the atlanta constitution. >> right. >> and he had to move to a bigger arena. you might say the l.a. times, to do it. and the l.a. times at that time was, otis chandler was ready to expand his paper to be competitive with "the new york times." and with jack's help, he did. >> that's right. exactly. in fact, to your point and this is not, this is not in the book, but in 1958 -- you'll remember this down in terrible tarold county -- there was a front page story in "the washington post" by robert e. lee baker who later changed his byline to robert e. baker because robert e. lee baker didn't sound quite appropriate discussing how law
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enforcement had killed a couple of african-american men, james frazier, wily countryman and wounded a few others and how it was a place of great fear for plaques and that they couldn't go out -- blacks, and that they couldn't go out on the streets at night. and it portrayed a frightful situation on the front page of "the washington post." well, jack got sent down toker terrell county to do a story that defended the south, defended the integrity of the county and of the white establishment. now, i'm not saying that's what he was told to do, but that is the story that he wrote. that says a reporter walking the streets here sees a number of african-americans out, and no one is expressing to this reporter any fear. well, they wouldn't, you know? [laughter] but he later expressed great regret that he had not really seen that story for its validity, "the washington post" story, and he had sort of become the homer, you know, the
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hometown guy trying to, you know, portray the situation in a more positive light. and that is about the same time that, you're right, he was undergoing this transformation. >> but he made up for it during andy young's time. >> oh, that's right. that's right. the other thing, what does integrity mean, what does it mean to be a journalist with integrity? particularly in that era? i mean, we've gone through a period of time where journalists really so dissociate themselves from people in politics that they sort of lose touch with the political pulse. and i understand why, you know? there are reasons that, you know, you don't want to be, you know, co-opted, there are various reasons. and when you look at how jack, i want to talk about a question that he asked you, president carter, during your debate with president ford -- >> he moderated. >> that's right. he was moderating it. and jack, a southerner, probably predisposed to like the southern
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governor, you know, to feel a little southern loyalty? [laughter] >> maybe, maybe not. >> his opening question was, governor, despite the fact that you've been running for president a long time now, many americans still seem to be uneasy about you. they don't feel that they know you or the people around you. one of the problems seems to be that you haven't reached people to bring people of broad background or national experience into your campaign, many of the people around you -- [laughter] are the people you've known in georgia, they're relatively young and ing experienced, you know, and he went on and on and on. [laughter] >> you see what i mean by -- >> yeah, right. exactly. so having said that, i want you to flash forward to the camp david story, if you're familiar with -- after you have a few people, journalists, over to dinner, right? after the camp david accords. >> two, i think. >> okay. and yet there was one person you ended up trusting more than anyone despite this. would you tell that? >> yeah, sure.
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well, i wanted to have a meeting with just a couple of reporters whom i, basically, trusted and to tell them exactly what did happen between me and, among me and begin and anwar sadat. and to take some time to do it in detail. and so i invited jack and this other reporter over to the white house to have supper with me and ross lend, and i spent really a couple of hours. you know, i think there were more than two, but anyway, a couple of hours explaining to them what had actually happened and how i had maximum, almost too much trust from anwar sadat, and begin didn't trust me at all, and how sadat was generous and begin was stingy, things of this kind. i really told the truth about the whole identification. and then, and jack was taking -- i found out later -- meticulous notes which it was supposed to be off the record. and then -- >> he was actually running into the restroom and -- >> yeah, he wrote notes. >> yeah.
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[laughter] but i didn't realize it at the time, b and if i remember correctly, jack called me a day or two later and asked if he could report what i had said. and, basically, i said, well, jack, if you don't screw me, you know? [laughter] with your story, or words to that effect -- [laughter] i think when i was president i used better language. [laughter] >> if you don't embarrass me. [laughter] >> whatever it was -- i didn't know what the record said. but anyway, the fact is he did write in the most meticulous detail what he wanted to all right from any -- wanted to report from my conversation. but i did trust jack, and i knew him to be an honest person. i'm not knocking other reporters, i don't know every reporter in the world, but he was one of the reporters that i would have trusted with my life. i knew he was, would tell the truth and that he was courageous
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enough to stand up for the truth even under the most tremendous pressures. and he did that in almost every instance of his life, and i've read the book a while back. i remember that there were two or three times when jack did back down on a story and regretted it until the end of his life. but those events were extremely rare. and sometimes he would defy even his top bosses at the danger of his own job in order to say i believe in this, and this is what i'm writing. he was just a courageous man. >> yeah, good. barbarasome. >> let me say before we make a saint out of jack -- [laughter] that, indeed, he was of a man of great integrity, but he was also a reporter which sometimes meant pushing the envelope, and a story that i always liked was i don't know how many of you remember the orange berg massacre when state troopers cut down on unarmed students and
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wounded over two dozen and killed three of them. four, sorry. and, um, jack was dispatched to that story, and when he got there, he went immediately to the hospital, and he said to the hospital administrator that he was there to -- he said, i'm jack nelson from the bower row, and i'm here to -- from the bureau, and i'm here to look at the medical records of the students. [laughter] and the administrator thought he meant the fbi, which jack knew perfectly well that was the impression he was giving. he used to wear that brush haircut and a trench coat that reporters dressed like fbi men because it afforded them a certain amount of protection sometimes in the field. anyway, he was given access to those medical records, and he showed that most of the students were wounded running away in the back, they were shot in the back or on the soles of their feet. and it was an important break in that story to disprove what the troopers had been saying, that they had -- that the students
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had opened fire at them and had thrown molotov cocktails. so that's what i mean by pushing the envelope a little bit. >> that's right. that -- years after that, he would tell that story on himself. >> that sounds like a saint to me. [laughter] >> i think later when it became considered, you know, inappropriate to do such things when we were writing our book, he was reluctant to go back and acknowledge that he had done that, but now he's done it again in scoop, and i'm glad to see that. ambassador young, the orange berg massacre is one example of jack bringing investigative reporting to the civil rights story. the other is the fbi involvement in the viola killing, the meridian bombing, i mean, the attempted, you know, the setup by the fbi that led to the arrest of tommy terrence, the murder in athens.
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tell me the impact that having that kind of nude coverage -- news coverage on the movement had on sort of the national understanding of what was going on? >> well, we really understood the press as educational media, educational tv. i mean, there was -- everything that had been going on that we were involved in had been going on for a hundred years. and it was very hard to get it out. now, i was -- because this was 1963, i was reminded that fred shuttlesworth came to get martin luther king on the 17th of december to promise that he would come to birmingham this year. but that's pause on the 14th -- because on the 14th or 15th fred's church had been pommed for the third -- bombed for the third time in 1962.
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there had been 60 bombings of homes that had received no publicity. and fred shuttlesworth was quite frank that he needed martin luther king to come over will to get any attention to this injustice. now, one of my other good friends, a guy who had been with us in the movement from cameraman was quite blunt with me about it saying, look, you're going to have to cut me some slack, andy, because i gotta keep a camera on dr. king. because if they kill him and i don't get a picture of it, i lose my job. now, it was, it it was almost tt cold an analysis where martin luther king knew that he was
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being used to focus on this injustice. and did it willingly. now, at the same time guys like jack nelson understood that, and the cameraman was lawrence pearce who had been a friend of martin's since montgomery. and so it was -- but there could not have been a change had it not been for the press. and the birmingham postherald put martin's arrest on page 34. but the reason we had demonstrations early in the morning so that they could fly the film to new york by 2:00 in the around, and it could make the 6:00 news. >> right. >> and it was of, there was,
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there was a deliberate need for us to share with the press to get the story out. >> a real strategy behind it too. >> yeah, i mean, it was part of the message, and we knew that we didn't have with the television more than three minutes. >> uh-huh. >> but dr. king used to say that, you know, you have three minutes on three networks. at that time that was worth a million dollars of publicity every day. and so lstles a deliberate -- there was a deliberate offering, i mean, risk thastles incurred -- that was incurred because we felt like we had to trust. i mean, there was nobody else that we could get this story
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out -- >> right. >> and we couldn't even get, we couldn't even get mass meetings announced on black radio stations. it was, it was, i mean, the south was nailed down real tight except for these incidents. and coming back to griffin bell, the reason i was, i mean, i volunteered to testify at griffin bell's hearing because i flew that griffin bell was the one who got both sides of the school desegregation in a courtroom and said, look, you all know more about atlanta schools than anybody else, you all work this out. and when you get through call me, and i'll make it a court order. [laughter]
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i mean, there was, there was a trust and a realization that this was a real problem that had to be faced regardless of the risks that were taken. now, compare that with right now where, i mean, people are writing about stories in such a way that, well, they do better reporting on the falcons -- [laughter] and, i mean, more in-depth reporting on the football game. >> we like our falcons, okay? [laughter] but i understand what you mean. >> but, but -- >> to your point earlier, too, that -- and those who read the book, i would point you to the chamentder on bo galusa. and while no one would ever say
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the press wuss more on the front lines of danger than the people in the movement themselves -- >> i would say that. >> well, okay, you can say that, good. >> yeah. >> but read the chapter, and you'll see jack, and you'll see that famous finger that he used the people's chest when klansmen were threatening jack and gene roberts and other certificates with their life. they invited them to a rally, and the clans people started saying they're not writing what we're saying, and they had to fall for a flying wedge to get jack and jeep and these other people out. and it only happened because gene buzz in the chest of a guy saying if you don't get us here alive, you not going to like what you read in the los angeles times odd. we have about four minutes. >> yeah. one quick factoid that is an important development out of the civil rights movement, vis-a-vis the press, of course, but the
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famous case new york times v. sullivan which the liable suit was -- libel suit redefined constitutional law for the first amendment. so that was a really important by-product. >> and organizations like the reporters' committee for the freedom of the press that he helped create depends so much on that. >> yes. >> [inaudible] >> thank you. [applause] >> and i'm going to take the last two minutes here. jack, as many of you know, in 1959 went down to the state hospital at millageville, and he found horrible conditions, he found patient abuse, he found people misrepresenting their skills and their license and their medical know how.
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he had people who weren't qualified to do surgery doing surgery. it was just a litany of problems, and jack got slugged, he got beat up, he got thrown over a desk. he took a lot of abuse for this, and he won a pulitzer prize, which -- and i believe, you know, mrs. carter, i heard that you've said before this was very important to you in development of mental health as your primary issue as first lady ask even now. so i think that that connects a really important couple of dots between career of jack nelson and what the carter center today stands for. >> and jack, i think if i'm correct, gave the first lecture or the first fellow of mental health and spoke to the journalists. they bring journalists in and teach them about how to do better stories on -- [inaudible conversations] great program, great program. great success. and i believe jack gave the
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first or the second speech to the first group of the inters. >> good. >> and he felt very deeply. >> and i'm a proud member of her advisory board, thank you. ladies and gentlemen, let me say one thing. we are going to go out into the lobby in a minute after president carter's able to leave and mrs. carter, and we're going to have some readings from the book, four short readings, kevin reilly, editor of the ajc, will be reading, cynthia tucker, pulitzer prize winner, i shared that day with her. roast mary mcgee and jim bentley, jack's former colleague. wal have examples of the nelson papers that are knockout at participate l, and i just want to thank all of you and especially our panelists so much. it was just great event and thank you so much for coming. [applause] ..n hour.
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